11 June, 2007


Every once in a while you have to chuck the elitist foodie aesthetic, and just get an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins.

The family is off to the Garden Isle. I've got a copy of The Curse of Lono, and some Jack London. We'll see if we can't cure some fish and make some rillettes. And fish tacos lot's of fish tacos. I'll be back in a couple of weeks.


03 June, 2007

Frozen Dinner

Rôti de porc à la porchetta.

Daccord mes saucisses, if you live outside the Chicagoland area, then you may not be aware that we are in the midst of an epic cicada emergence. After living underground for seventeen years, the cicadas (Magicicada) burrow out of the earth for a six week mating dance. The noise is deafening. Every morning about nine they start tuning their tymbals, and by noon they are at full chorus. There are millions of these bugs in our neighborhood and they have contests to see who can be the loudest. It is no fun to be outside. By six PM (1800 for my continental friends, or 12 o'clock in Ethiopia) they wind down and are silent during the night. I put a few pictures of them of the flickr page.

Since it is no fun to be outside, and since we are going out of town next week, I figure it is a good time to go through the freezer and rotate the stock. The place where I buy my pork is a funny place: I ask for some boneless pork shoulder, the man behind the counter says how much? I say oh about five pounds. He puts a piece on the scale and says: Seven pounds okay? Uh sure. And when it come to pork bellies, don't even ask, just pick the one that looks good. Invariably I end up with bits and pieces in the freezer.

I had these pieces of belly and shoulder in the freezer. I put them in the fridge to thaw. It took a couple of days. I had seen a recipe in Aidells's Complete Book of Pork , where a piece of belly is wrapped around a piece of loin to create a "mini" Porchetta, I was ready to give it a try.

Wait, you don't know what porchetta is?

Let's jump into the way back machine, six years to when me and the Bonne Femme, got hitched.

Yeah and it's been all fireworks and kisses since then. Anyway porchetta is Italian barbecue, A hog is de-boned, rolled and stuffed with various things.

Weiland's catered the affair and they presented the perfect porchetta. It was stuffed with garlic and rosemary. We had gotten the idea the year before in Italy. At the outdoor markets there was always at least one van with a someone cutting slices and serving them on a roll. The only condiment was a pumice of coarse salt, pepper and olive oil. The magic of the cut is that you get crispy skin and melting rind enveloping roasted meat..oh man, I might have to fix myself a sandwich right now....

Since my copy of Aidells' book is back at the library, I decided to make up a recipe. I started with some fresh herbs, parsley, rosemary and thyme (don't start singing), I chopped them up with some garlic, pepper and salt and applied it to the interior of the soon to be roast.

I placed the piece of shoulder in the middle, rubbed it with some herbs, then tied it.

I bushed the skin with olive oil and put it on the smoker for about two and a half hours. The smoker ran at about 300F. I removed the roast when the internal temperature was 168F, and let it rest before slicing.

Here it is with a insalata caprese, salad and Spinaci alla romana (NYT recipe). The crackling was crispy. I had brushed it with olive oil again about an hour into the cooking time. The belly was rich, and the pork shoulder was a little chewy, next time I'll try it with a piece of loin instead. I think this is the ultimate barbecue food, something fresh and different from the freezer. Here's the quanties I used:

Rôti de porc à la porchetta

2 -1/2 lbs Pork belly skin on

1 -1/4 lbs boneless Pork shoulder (trimmed)*

18 g sea salt

12 g black pepper

12g garlic peeled and minced

Handful of fresh rosemary (trimmed and chopped to weigh 12g)

Handful of fresh parsley (trimmed and chopped to weigh 8g)

Few fingers of fresh thyme (trimmed and chopped to weigh 2g)

*I used shoulder because that's what I had in the freezer. It it came out a little chewy. At the store I would get some pork loin. The loin should be of a size that it will match the belly in length, and that the belly will wrap around the loin completely.

The next day make sandwiches for a picnic. Enjoy the summer.